The baby was due the end of March, little Frodo-lad. We’d planned all along, Sam and me, to name him for Mr. Frodo.
I’ve had a good many little ones since then, and I know that last month is always a misery, but it was news to me then. I couldn’t bend over to pick anything up off the floor, and if I squatted down, I’d better be near a table or something to pull myself up again. My back hurt, and my belly felt so heavy, I took to walking with my hands under it to help support the weight. Sam chuckled to see me, and I snapped at him.
“Just wait till he gets out, Sam Gamgee, then you can carry young Frodo for a change!”
He took me in his arms and smoothed my hair, turning me sideways to him so’s he could hold me close without the baby coming between us.
“I will, lass, I will. Just a little longer, Rosie, and I’ll carry him all you like. Go sit down now and put your feet up, and I’ll bring you a mug of tea.”
I couldn’t wish for a kinder husband than Sam and I felt bad that I was so crabby to him, but I was so tired. I couldn’t sleep at night, couldn’t find any position that felt comfortable. And when I did drop off, the baby would begin to kick till he woke me up again.
“You wretched child, are you doing a jig in there?” I grumbled blearily one night, when he woke me for the third time.
Sam was deep asleep, and I left him lying in bed and started for the kitchen. A cup of chamomile tea might relax me. Maybe I could doze in one of the deep parlor chairs.
Passing Mr. Frodo’s door, I heard a soft cry, and I stopped in the passage to listen. His nightmares were getting more frequent, it seemed like.
He cried out again, and I wondered if I should call Sam to wake him, pull him back from the evil dreams. But Sam was sleeping so peaceful, and he'd been working hard all day in the orchard. He'd been so tired when we went to bed, and I was awake already.
While I hesitated there was another cry and a crash as if Frodo had fallen out of bed. I flung open the door and rushed in. He was face down on the floor, twisted in the bedclothes he’d dragged down with him in his fall.
“Mr. Frodo! Are you all right?”
He turned his head toward me and his eyes were open, but it was like he didn’t see me, or didn’t know who I was.
“You should have left me,” he said hoarsely. “You should have left me, Sam.”
He scared me, his eyes were so staring and blind-like, but he was pitiful too, lying on the floor in a heap, and I knelt beside him awkwardly, reaching out to stroke his hair.
“Wake up, Mr. Frodo. It was just a bad dream. Wake up now.”
Quicker than I could see, his hand flashed out and clutched my wrist, hard, so I cried out from it.
“Why did you bring me home, Sam? You should’ve left me for the fire!”
“Let go, Mr. Frodo! It’s Rose! Wake up now, sir – wake up!”
Slowly the glazed look left his eyes and he came back to himself. He let go of me and sat up, rubbing his hands over his face.
“What happened? Rose? What’s wrong? Is Sam all right?”
I giggled, from shock I guess, and relief at seeing him back to normal.
“Sam’s fine, Mr. Frodo – sound asleep, if he hasn’t woken up from all this racket. You had a bad dream, is all, and fell out of bed.”
“Did I wake you, Rosie? I’m sorry. I’m as much trouble as a babe myself, waking the house with my nightmares.”
He unwound the sheets and stood, helping me to my feet.
“Come on, I’ll see you safe back to your room. Then I think I’ll make myself a pot of tea; I’m not quite ready to face the dreams again.”
“I was going for some tea anyway, Mr. Frodo. I can’t seem to get comfortable to sleep, lately. We can keep each other company.”
He smiled down at me, and I thought he was glad not to be alone. But his eyes were shadowed, and the things he’d said, talking in his sleep, bothered me – did he think he was a trouble to us? This wasn’t the first time he’d made comments like that, off hand, like it was a jest. But in his sleep he had sounded serious, desperate even. And his talk about the fire...
I chewed on the question while he made our tea, wondering if I dared bring up the subject, or if I ought to.
Sometimes things left unsaid make more trouble than the things you say, I thought. If Mr. Frodo thought he was a burden to Sam and me, he needed to think again. He set a mug of tea before me, and I looked into his face. He smiled, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.
“Mr. Frodo.” I took a deep breath, took my courage in both hands. “You were talking in your sleep, sir.”
He stiffened and looked away. “I’m sorry you had to hear any of that, Rose. Just forget it, please.”
“I can’t just forget it. It was too horrible! You were saying Sam should’ve left you to the fire, not brought you home.” The tears came to my eyes, and I bit down on my lip. I couldn’t go crying now, I needed to finish this. “Mr. Frodo, you saved the Shire; you saved all of Middle Earth from the Shadow. You’re a hero, Mr. Frodo! You were talking like you thought you ought to be punished.”
“A hero,” he repeated. He put his hand on the table, spread it out so every finger was separate, so the gap of the missing finger was as wide as it could be. “The hero who saved Middle Earth from the Dark Lord. And how did I do that, pray? By standing on the edge of the Crack of Doom and having my finger bitten off – because it was the only way to get that thrice-cursed Ring away from me – the Ring I swore to cast into the fire!" He pushed his mug aside. “I don’t think tea is quite what I need tonight.”
He went to the sideboard, grabbed the brandy bottle and a wine glass. Brought them back to the table and filled the glass right to the top.
“Here’s to the hero!” he said, and swallowed it at one go.
“Stop that, Mr. Frodo!” I jumped up and took the bottle away from him, put it back in its place. “You listen to me, now!”
He stared at me, and there was such despair in his face, it about broke my heart. I reached out and took his hand in both of mine. “Listen,” I said again, but I wondered what I could say that might get through the misery in his eyes.
“Mr. Frodo, you got the job done, however it happened. What difference that you didn’t do it all by yourself? So you’re a hero and Sam’s a hero, and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin – you’re all heroes! It was too big of a job for any one person – even Gandalf couldn’t do it all by himself. And you did the biggest part, carrying the Ring to Mordor. It had to get to the Crack of Doom, didn’t it, before Gollum could bite off your finger and fall in with it? He wouldn’t have brought it there himself, that’s certain!”
He began to laugh and I thought for a moment that it was all right, he was all right, but the laughter was all wrong.
“There’s a hero right out of legend,” he gasped. “Right up there with Earendil himself. But don’t forget Gollum, Rose! He’s a hero, too – he’s the one who took the thing into the fire. Only it would’ve been better if he’d pulled me in too, not just my finger! That would have been a proper end to the story.”
“Mr. Frodo – no!”
He seemed to come back to himself then. He looked down at our hands on the table, both of mine still wrapped protectively around his. His eyes met mine, full of such bleak hopelessness that I felt I was drowning in it.
“You don’t understand, Rose. I had the Ring too long; I carried it too far. It still has a hold on me. I still – want it. And I hate it, I hate myself for wanting it, but it doesn’t matter, I still do. I think I always will, as long as I live.”
His voice dropped to a whisper. “I’m glad Gandalf came and rescued Sam, saved him for you. But it would have been kinder if he’d left me for the fire.”
I didn’t know what to say. After a bit, he drew his hand away, gently, and warmed up our tea.
“Mr. Frodo,” I said at last.
He was staring into the fire, and I shivered, wondering what he was thinking.
“Mr. Frodo, you did everything you could do. Nobody could’ve done more than you did. And you nearly didn’t come back, but I’m that glad you did! I wouldn’t of never got to know you otherwise – and you’re a hero to me, no matter what you say.”
He smiled, a sad little smile, and reached out his finger to touch the tip of my nose.
“Thank you, Rose. You’re a comforting lass; did you know that? Sam is a lucky hobbit. And he deserves to be – because the real hero of this tale is Samwise Gamgee.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.